A VIEW OF RACIAL DIVERSITY FROM THE U.S. and ITALY—The photo at left shows the Rev. Dr. France A. Davis, pastor emeritus of Utah’s largest predominantly black church. As a young man, Dr. Davis marched twice with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Davis also has played a major role in groundbreaking relations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dominates life in Utah. Recently, two founding members of the International Association of Religion Journalists were involved in lifting up Dr. Davis’s prophetic voice to a global audience. In 2020, regular readers of the IARJ website will be able to enjoy occasional columns featuring stories that connect religion writers on different continents.
IARJ’s Co-Managing Director Larbi Megari—who was also named the IARJ’s representative for North Africa and Middle East in 2018—reports in the Global Plus series about building friendships across religious lines. He especially explores issues of building social trust and civility between Muslims and non-Muslims. And, at the end of his column, Larbi adds a list of links to additional resources that will be valuable for journalists reporting on these issues.
As he marks his third anniversary on the job, Pope Francis is providing encouragement, renewed optimism and a new energy to many of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. It is an appeal that extends beyond Catholics as the humble leader addresses issues from the refugee crisis to the environment. But can one person, even someone as charismatic as Francis, bring about lasting change?
Religious fashion matters. It matters to individuals who view wearing head scarves, kippas and turbans as a positive expression of faith, and it matters to societies increasingly setting restrictions on religious attire in response to concerns ranging from security to the belief that increasing diversity represents a threat to the essential character of their nations. So how, in the face of intense political and social pressures, can nations balance issues of religious freedom, tolerance and national identity? A developing body of research sheds some light on the debate.
Recent events such as the release of a crude anti-Islamic film made by extremists was associated with violent actions by extremists in other parts of the world shows how issues relating to faith can cross borders with startling speed and emphasizes the importance of the IARJ.